Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Teaching Reading In Retrospect

There are a ton of reading curriculums out there-- all with their own slant or unique angle, whether it's games or formulas or research driven results, each one promises to be "the one" that will help your child learn to read. I was thinking about this yesterday as we eased back into school after mommy's trip. I thought about the many great curriculums I tried back in the day: Alphaphonics, Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Turbo Reader, etc. We tried so many before my oldest finally read. I kept thinking it was the curriculum, but really it was the child.

He wasn't ready.

How do I know he wasn't ready? Because once he was ready, he took off! He was unstoppable, reading every book he could get his hands on about the Revolutionary War-- an interest he still has to this day (though he is loathe to admit it now that he's a way cool teenager). When I saw him reading adult level history books, I knew that all my worry had been for naught.

I was thinking about all this as I instructed my six year old son in reading. He is slowly progressing, getting frustrated, struggling with the word "all" even though we have read it most every day this year, confusing "b" with "d." All the things my oldest son did. But back then I had a gun to my head called "my family is watching to see if I screw this kid up with this crazy thing called homeschooling." So I stressed and pushed and cried and (I am ashamed to admit it now) yelled. Now my family hardly even bats an eye over what I'm doing-- they know I am going to let the kid go at his own pace. They have seen me do it with the other ones before him. And guess what? They are all strong readers! And I feel MUCH less pressure than I once did. I have grown more confident with experience.

Through all that fancy curriculum, I arrived at something that worked for us that is, really, simple. So simple I do catch myself wondering if it's somehow... wrong. But then I quickly reason that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So, here's how we do it:

As soon as they know the letters and their sounds, I start them in Explode The Code, book 1. We progress slowly through this series, taking up to the third grade to complete them. As they learn to sound out short vowel words, I use the Bob books to help them feel like they are really reading. Once they are comfortable with those, we use The Early Readers' Bible. We read a story a day, then repeat the story the next day. Each day I choose a few sentences from what we read and put it on lined paper. Then the child copies the passage.

That's it! It takes hardly any time at all-- and it doesn't cost much money. I don't know about you but less time and less money works for me! If you are struggling with teaching reading, relax. Don't stress out. Trust your child, trust your instincts, and trust God to see you through with the right solution for you and your child. He did it for me, I know He will do it for you.
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Jodi Davis said...

This is EXACTLY what I wanted to talk to you about Marybeth! Give me a call when you can chat. Have a great day!

Julie Coleman said...

It sounds like you have hit upon a combination of phonics and sight word memorization. In all my years of teaching reading (20 in Christian schools) I found this to be a winner myself.

I'm glad you are sensitive to your child's learning curve. Some kids just aren't ready. That's the beauty of home schooling-- you can match your curriculum to your own child's pace.

You have instinctively done what teachers are trained to do before ever entering the classroom. Good on you. I know your children are blessed for it!

4torock said...

Thank u Thank u!! I soo needed this - my almost 2nd grader is not near where my other daughter was at this stage and feeling like its my fault ( our first year homeschooling :) ) EVERY time I turn to your blog it speaks to me-- God has a way of doing that huh?? lol Miss seeing you around- 9 weeks till baby #5... wish me luck teehee!!!xo

Rona said...

What about spelling. H is reading but when it is time to spell, he is a little behind.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if this is a lame question, what are the "BOB" books?

Marybeth said...

Hey Anonymous-- that's not a lame question at all! I am lame for assuming people knew what those are! I went back and provided a link to the Amazon page so you can find set number one. Each set builds on the other, beginning with simple words like "hat," "sat," etc.
Kids feel successful when they can read "the whole book."

Linda said...

I have been in turmoil over this myself. After failing at Rod and Staff.. we finally decided to try explode the code. Anna is on book 4 and loves it alot. She has finally started connecting the words in reading and is actually enjoying it. She will be 8 next month. Now my problem is grammar.. everyone (yes, non-homeschoolers) tell me she needs to be writing and working with grammar.. I tell myself not to overwhelm her.. we have started writing slowly.. I have been trying to remind myself that she is working at her own pace.. and doing great.

sweettea said...

We did use 100 Easy Lessons, but then we did something similar to you. We made a portfolio where they wrote one sentence or the main phrase of the Bible story and drew a picture as well. We used the lined paper with a blank bottom. By the time they finished they had their own little Bible book. :o)

DOakley said...

Thank you for sharing the Marybeth. I am contemplating homeschooling our youngest, but even if I don't I certainly want to see him become a successful reader.

Thanks for the great tip. I'm bookmarking this one.


Amy said...

I LOVE the Explode the Code books :) We have the same process except we also add some easy reader books from the library.